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The Jade Faced Assassin

Hong Kong 1970
produced by
Shaw Brothers
directed by Yen Chuan
starring Lily Ho, Kao Yuen, Pan Yin-Tzu, Chang Pei-Shan, Essie Lin Chia
written by Huang Feng, music by Yung Yu

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A Kung Fu-creed is stolen from the Chang Chuen clan, and the eldest sister (Essie Lin Chia) of the clan decides to split the just orphaned baby twins of a couple htat was somehow involved in the theft up to eventually retrieve the creed once they have grown to adulthood and want to avenge their parents. And to make extra sure of that, Eldest Sister brings up the male twin herself while she gives the female part to her arch enemy, hero Lian.

Soon, the girl, named Siao Lu (and played by Lily ho once she has reached adulthood) is stolen from Lian by a gang of crooks (for whatever reason) who teach her Kung Fu (for whatever reason), but she still keeps in touch with Lian and learns about her parents killer, Chang Tzai, and after she has taught her crooked foster parents/Kung Fu-teachers a lesson (yup, she has since become a Kung Fu-master), she, disguised as a man, sets out to find her parents' killer ... who seems to have vanished from earth, but instead she finds the young and pretty girl Xin Chian, whose life she saves and who falls in love with her, thinking Siao Lu's a man - much to the dismay of Xin Chian's brother Hua Yu Chu (Kao Yuen), who detests Siao Lu just beause she knows hero Lian, whom he thinks to be the killer of his parents (a no-prize for everyone who has guessed by now that Siao Lu and Hua Yu Chu are actually brother and sister). Repeatedly, Hua, by and large an upright man, tries to kill Siao Lu, but for one, Siao Lu can take good care of herself, and then Xin Chian does her best to intervene.

Eventually, Siao Lu finds out about one hero Chang, who seems to be mixed up in some very illegal dealings but still trying to pass off as an honourable, upright citizen ... and he fools everybody, everybody but Siao Lu, who spends her time spying on him and thwarting his schemes whenever she can ... not knowing yet that hero Chang is exactly the Chang Zhai, killer of her parents, she is looking for.

Before long, Hua Yu Chu and his sister Xin Chian are guests of Chang, and since Siao Lu likes Xin chian and respects Hua Yu Chu as an honourable man, even though he wants to kill her, she tries to convince them that Chang is really a villain ... without much success at first - until Xin Chian is dying from a poisoned meal meant for Hua Yu Chu, and somehow no antidote can be found in the whole town - only Siao Lu manages to steal some from Chang's secret headquarters and bring it to Xin Chian just in time, ultimately saving her life again.

So eventually, Siao Lu and Hua Yu Chu team up and defeat and kill the villain ... and now they should be friends forever, right ?

Wrong, because Eldest Sister, Hua Yu Chu's master, insists that he fights Siao Lu to the death for the Kung Fu creed, and even though he has since come to like and respect Siao Lu, he doesn't dare to contradict his master.

So ultimately the two engage in mortal combat, though each is holding back out of respect for the other ... until at one point in battle it seems to be inevitable that either kills the other ... when Younger Sister of the Chang Chuen Clan intervenes, claiming this has gone far enough ... and as a thank you, she is thrown off a cliff by her own sister. Now both Siao Lu and Hua Yu Chu are seeing the real villain in the game, and ultimately, Siao Lu buries her sword in Eldest Sister's body ... ouch !

 

A nice martial arts/swordsplay film that tells its (over)complex story with recommendable ease, features many original plottwists and sufficient action along the way, and is garnered by a light (if a tad old-fashioned) directorial style. The only thing which I (and probably most Westerners) do not get is, hwo can anyone confuse pretty Lily Ho, with her female looks and voice, for a boy (a plot device found in many Hong Kong films by the way). But even if Lily Ho can't convince as a man, her performance as the film's daring and carefree hero(ine) comes off pretty refreshingly well and adds to the positive overall effect of the film.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD